DOVID EYNHORN (DAVID EINHORN) (1886-March 2, 1973)
Born in Karelitsh (Korelice), Novogrudok region, then Russia, into a family of elite descent. His father was a military doctor who later became quite religious and gave his son a religious Jewish education—initially in religious elementary schools in the towns of Wołkowysk (Volkovysk) and Rebzevitsh, and later in a yeshiva in Vilna. At age thirteen he began to write poems in Hebrew. Under the influence of the revolutionary movement, he grew close to the Bund and began to write his poems in Yiddish. He published the first of them in the Bundist Arbeter-shtime (Voice of labor), in Der nayer veg (The new way), and in Yidish folk (The Jewish people) (Vilna, 1904). He later contributed to periodicals and newspapers from the wider Jewish world, including: Fraynd (Friend), Literarishe monatshriftn (Monthly literary writings), Yidishe velt (Jewish world), Lebns-fragn (Life questions), and Forverts (Forward), among others. He published his first poetry collection in 1909: Shtile gezangen (Quiet chants) (Vilna), 46 pp.; a second, enlarged edition appeared in 1910 (Warsaw), 64 pp. It elicited an enthusiastic response from the public and established him in the first line of creators of modern Yiddish verse. His romantic tone and the deep lyricism of his songs were a major success. Intimately lyrical, they breathed with the spirit and feeling of the entire awakened Jewish youth. The national-romantic mood of the young generation, hovering between hope and anxiety, took in Eynhorn’s poetry with great charm and freshness. His free verse, with its very soft and yearning story-like tone, floating between yesterday which is past and tomorrow which is still vague—all this had in it something promising and something profoundly sad. In every case it was new, and both Bal-Makhshoves and Shmuel Niger marked Eynhorn’s poems as a turning point in modern Yiddish poetry. His second book, Mayne lider (My poems) (Vilna, 1912), 56 pp. (second edition, 1913), reinforced the impression of a deep personal lyric which is simultaneously Jewish nationalist. Such poems as “Mayn folk, es gehert mayn neshome dayn troyer” (My people, my soul belongs to your anguish), “Di idilye” (The idyll), and “Dos beryozkele” (The little birch tree), among others, became extremely popular and beloved. Eynhorn also wrote semi-fictional articles in Fraynd, Di yidishe velt, and from time to time in Lebns-fragn and Folks-tsaytung (People’s paper) in Warsaw.
In 1912 Eynhorn was arrested for revolutionary contacts, and after serving half a year in a Vilna jail, he was forced to leave Russia. He settled initially in France and thereafter in Switzerland. At this point a certain change transpired in his work. “Dray lilien” (Three lilies) (published in Di yidishe velt), “Tsviye” (Gazelle—a play in three scenes) in which he portrayed the struggles between the world views of the Jews and the Christian Hellenizers; these did not have within them the tenderness and lyrical charm of his younger poems. Their language and form, however, were rich and mature. At that time, he began to publish articles in Chaim Zhitlovsky’s Dos naye lebn (The new life) in New York, in Tsukunft (Future), and in the organ of the Jewish Socialist Federation, Di naye velt (The new world) which in 1917 published his book of poems and sonnets, Tsu a yidisher tokhter (To a Jewish daughter) (New York), 155 pp. (a smaller portion of this book appeared that same year in Warsaw bearing the title Ven der friling ruft [When spring calls]). Following his return from Switzerland at the end of WWI, Eynhorn settled in Warsaw. From this time we can date his close association with Bundist publications, chiefly Lebns-fragn. Aside from poems and book reviews, he published there feature pieces, only a small number of which appeared in his book, Shvarts-royt, gedanken un bilder (Black-red, thoughts and images) (Warsaw, 1920), 169 pp. Eynhorn served on the editorial board of the Bundist publications: Arbeter-luekh (Workers’ calendar) and Undzer grus (Our greeting), among others. He later moved and settled in Berlin in 1920, and he became a regular contributor to the Forverts (Forward) in New York; aside from poems, articles, and correspondences from Germany, he also published chapters of a novel concerned with Russian-Jewish immigrants in Germany after WWI. During these years, he was also devoting time to the translation of parts of the Hebrew Bible—parts which appeared in Vayter-bukh (Further-book) and Der onheyb (The beginning) (Berlin, 1922). He was the editor of the latter and in it he also published his translation of Elsa Lasker-Schuler’s “Der Wunderrabbiner von Barcelona” (“Der vunder-rov fun barselone,” The wonder rabbi of Barcelona). In 1922 he published in Berlin the poem, “Rekvyem” (Requiem), 15 pp., a kind of memorial for the ten million who died in WWI. He also wrote a large number of children’s stories, only a small number of which appeared in book forms: A mames trern (A mother’s tears) (Petrograd: Kletskin, 1917), 21 pp.; A mayse fun zibn shtume foygelekh (A story of seven mute little birds) (Petrograd, 1917), 26 pp.; (Rye sisters), poetry (Kiev: Kiever Farlag, 1917), 7 pp.; among others. His work was also included in: Far kleyne kinder (For little children) (Kiev, 1918); Mut (Courage) (Moscow, 1920), and Zamlung (Collection) (Kharkov, 1925). The majority of Eynhorn’s children’s stories were scattered about various Jewish children’s magazines (including as well in English translation in World Over in New York). His writings which appeared in book form, only a small portion of the whole, would include: (Quiet youth) (Warsaw, 1920), 174 pp., poems from his early period (published also in a subsequent edition); (Collected poems) (Berlin, 1925), 188 pp., poems from the years 1904-1924; (Violet) (Paris, 1930), 103 pp., poems from the years 1925-1930; (From Berlin to San Francisco) (Warsaw, 1930), 303 pp., travel images from America; (Father of compassion) (New York, 1943), 64 pp., with illustrations by Y. Shlos, in the form of memorial poems for the destruction of Jewish life in Europe; 1904-1941 (Collected poems, 1904-1941) (New York, 1952), 272 pp. A number of Eynhorn’s poems were sung as folksongs.
In his literary criticism, Eynhorn stood up for the classical forms and expressed his aversion to the extreme modernist school. He argued that Yiddish poetry should consist of motifs that are close to the Jewish people, their history, and their surroundings. He expressed these ideas in the collection, Di teyve (The ark), which in 1919 he published in Warsaw together with Alter Kacyzne, and later (with Fishl Lyakhover) the periodical Di epokhe (The epoch) in which he raged against “foreign influences” in Yiddish poetry. Together with Professors Libman-Hersh and Nakhmanzon, in 1917 in Geneva he published the weekly newspaper, Di fraye shtime (The free voice), and until the start of WWII he was on the editorial staff of the Bundist daily Undzer shtime (Our voice) in Paris. Eynhorn translated from French Victor Hugo’s novel Quatre-vingt-treize (Dos 93te yor, Ninety-three) published in Warsaw. As a bitter combatant against Communism and Communists, he wrote—in addition to a fair number of sharply polemical articles in the press—the short book, An ofener briv tsu her olgin (An open letter to Mr. Olgin) (New York, 1924). He was then living in Paris. When the Nazis were approaching the capital city of France, he escaped from Paris and in 1940 arrived in the United States. A regular contributor to the Forverts, he wrote articles preaching a return to traditional Jewish conceptions of life. Among his pseudonyms: Shigoyen ledovid (A hymn to David), Akher (Other), A lezer (A reader), Monokarnus, and others. He died in New York.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Algemayne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), vol. 1; Bal-Makhshoves, Shriftn (Writings), vol. 3, and in Dos naye lebn (1923); Moyshe Shalit, in Dos naye lebn (1909); H. D. Nomberg, Shriftn (Writings) (Kiev, 1918); A. Reyzin, in Tsukunft (1913); A. Litvak, in Tsukunft (1916); H. Leyvik, in Literarishe zamlbikher (Literary collections) (New York, 1918); A. M. Vaysenberg, Yudishe zamlbikher (Yiddish collections) (Warsaw, 1920); N. Oyslender, in Bikher-velt (Kiev); Yoyl Slonim, in Literatur (1910); Yankev Pat, Shmuesn mit yidishe shrayber (Chats with Jewish writers) (New York, 1954); B. Y. Byalostotski, in Tsukunft (1921); B. Shvarts, in Tsukunft (1931); Kh. Krul, Arum zikh (Around itself) (Vilna, 1930); Z. Epshteyn, in Vestnik (1916); Shmuel Niger, “Shvarts-vays” (Black-white), Tsukunft (February 1925), “Fun berlin biz san-frantsisko” (From Berlin to San Francisco), Tsukunft (July 1931), “Der poet fun a dor” (The poet of the generation), Tog (May 1936), “D. eynhorns naye lider” (D. Eynhorn’s new poems), Tog (September 26, 1943), “Dovid bergelson un dovid eynhorn” (Dovid Bergelson and Dovid Eynhorn), Tog (October 9, 1949), and “Eynhorns geklibene lider” (Eynhorn’s collected poems), Tog (August 24, 1952).